Having just committed to getting back into the swing of making regular time for art and sharpening my skills again, I quickly lapsed because of a nigh impossible schedule. I literally had to make a spreadsheet titled “Schedule Hell” in order to navigate all of the many schedule clash problems I had to resolve. Essentially I need to be able to clone myself or develop teleportation. Since I suck at STEM, I just get to be burned out from the stress of having to be in multiple places at once.
Anyway, this is the page I managed to complete in my Rainbow Art Journal because the blue background was ready and waiting for me. This background is the result of painting leftover acrylic from other projects onto the page in a haphazard way. Since I enjoy drawing inaccurate skeletons, I decided to attempt a whale. The proportions are actually wackier than even I intended but that’s OK.
I feel like I have been working on my Rainbow Art Journal for an eternity. I definitely work on this project in fits and starts with long periods of neglect. Deciding it was time I got those mixed media muscles working again, I cracked open my Rainbow Art Journal and play around with some acrylic – a medium I have not used in months.
I am still malingering in the blue section of the Art Journal. I don’t think I am even half way through the pages yet but finally getting to the end of the blue section will, I suspect, feel like movement*. Blue often makes me think of sea and sky so that is what inspired this illustration of a lighthouse. It did not take me long to recognise the extent to which my painting skills have atrophied due to an extended period of not practicing. The results are ugly. It’s a very rough and patchy page and my lines are very wonky and wobbly, even by my own standards. It was tempting to give everything an additional coat of paint and start over but a) I did not have the time available and b) I figured it would be a place marker in my Art Journal, demarcating where I returned to the project and started over, and therefore provide a measure of the progress I can make from this point forward.
*A check of my blog reveals that I embarked on the blue section in September of last year. Even more staggering is the fact that I started the whole Rainbow Art Journal in January of 2017. I really am tortoising my way through this project!
This is the other page in my Rainbow Art Journal that I completed over Winter break. The page was covered in all sorts of collaged odds and ends. Essentially any scrap of blue leftover from another project, any blue postage stamp, any interesting labels ended up adhered to this page. One prominent label was from a wine bottle and the name of it – Capuchon – gave me the idea for the illustration. I made the hat wonky because that asymmetry is something I enjoy and the side benefit of the floppy brim was that I only had to draw one eye. No challenge of creating two matching eyes.
This is one of those art journal pages that ultimately just defeated me. I painted so many layers on this sucker trying to get everything to balance out in an aesthetically pleasing way, including changing the colours several times, but ultimately I just threw my hands up and surrendered because I got sick of the sight of the same page in my art journal and wanted to move on. The one positive thing I can say about this illustration is that all of that layering led to some decent painty texture.
I have been working on an illustration commission that is giving me lots of “crisis of confidence” anxiety that has led to lots of mental blocks. I, therefore, had to take a break and do something that was still arty but much looser, something that was not following a plan or a vision, just to be playful and make me feel less intense in my creativity. Time to tootle around in my art journal then. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt of “23” because it allowed me to be abstract and just produce 23 of something without it all having to generate an overall illustration or coherent image. Indeed, needing a break from illustration as I was, I didn’t use a pencil or a pen to create any sort of guidelines and just went straight in with a brush absolutely loaded with water and some paint. What I ended up with was a collection of 23 (if I counted correctly!) overlapping pebble shapes. They aren’t trying to communicate anything, they aren’t about anything, they are simply shapes on a page. This page was just the quick liberating exercise I needed to recharge my batteries and return to the illustration job.
Today was my last teaching day of the school year. I am working at my preschool’s summer camp for the next fortnight but summer break is in reach. I am looking forward to a summer spent hanging out with my kids, relaxing, travelling, spending time on hobbies and interests, and generally having a much more flexible schedule. This week, however, was completely hectic and crazy in the way that the final weeks of the school year always are so this week’s art journal effort is still sloppy and rushed. That’s OK, however, because I needed those 20 minutes of art time as a brief escape pod from my ridiculous schedule. I used this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt – the letter B – so I created a watercolour illustration of a Big Blue Bear.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “trees”. The obvious subject would have been a Christmas tree but I really was not in the mood to draw or paint one. I, therefore, chose to depict a frosty tree but in a slightly abstracted way. I worked on this page gradually over the week before Christmas and got it finished thanks to having two days off work while my kids were still in school. It is a bit sloppy and imperfect thanks to being worked on inconsistently and in a bit of a rush each time but it’s only an art journal page so that’s quite OK.
Next year, I am not signed up for any courses and I have no art based commitments or obligations. I am just going to do my own thing and will try to be disciplined about eking out some art time each week without having a prompt to do so.
I have not found time to tackle a Life Book lesson in a good few weeks now. I decided, therefore, to break my drought with a lesson by Wendy Brightbill that involved creating an abstract piece using liquid media and mark making. I am happy that I took time out of my massively busy life to work on this lesson as I did enjoy the process. I have been heavily involved in illustrations for months now, including my contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project and Inktober, so it was a nice break and pretty liberating to do something completely different, just sploshing watercolour around without a great deal of thought. I have to state, however, that I don’t especially like the finished outcome. Hate is too strong a word but it really is not a piece I want to look at again. This piece was definitely about the journey rather than the destination.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte and involved drawing two figures. I had not gotten around to working on Life Book lessons for a few weeks so I was keen to tackle this one over the weekend. I find drawing more than one figure in a piece to be fairly challenging because of the need to make them cohere and keep proportions and angles of light consistent. That was another good reason to complete the lesson. I had to improvise a lot with the lesson because I don’t own the markers that Laporte demonstrated. I, therefore, used ink and watercolour instead. I tried to stay true to one of the focal points of the lesson, however, by working on creating a range of skin tones. This is a skill I definitely still need to develop but I was nevertheless reasonably pleased with the flesh tones I created in this piece because at least I avoided making them too sallow or adding too much ochre.
My schedule was utterly slammed this week. Every space on the wall calendar was crammed with appointments and commitments and things that needed to be done. I thought there was not the remotest chance I was going to get to even view this week’s Life Book lessons let alone sit down and do something creative. However, two things happened this week that utterly jiggered my schedule and caused a great deal of hassle – one of my kids was off school sick for two days and then we had a snow day – but which actually meant I had more time stuck at home. More time at home meant I could actually get stuck into the lesson and art time was probably just what I needed to take the edge off the stress of a totally bonkers week.
The lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte. Tam always provides wonderfully in-depth videos for her lessons but there was no way I was going to find time to both view the videos and then still have time to create. I, therefore, read the accompanying PDF, modified the lesson by eliminating certain stages, and got stuck in. The crux of the lesson was a self-portrait scaffolded on an image transfer. I have never had much success with image transfers but I thought that was precisely why I should have another crack at it. The outcome was not ideal – I think I spread the gel medium too thinly in places – but is definitely the best I have produced so far so represents progress.
I then proceeded to paint on top of the image transfer and this was where I diverged from the lesson. I did not have time for layer upon layer of media so I limited myself to acrylic paint, Neocolor II crayons, and Inktense pencils and blocked in areas of colour and built up the detail of my face.
The idea of the painting was to include personal, symbolic elements and text alongside the self-portrait. It is not really my thing to be that personal and emotional with my art work. Art is definitely therapeutic to me but only in terms of the act of creating. I don’t need it to be a form of processing and expressing my thoughts and feelings and I am also too intensely private. I decided, however, that the self-portrait did need some finishing touches so I added some collage elements in the form of butterflies and leaves formed from text pages. All of those things could be interpreted as things that are important to me as a person – words and learning, growth, and change.